5 Simple Tricks for a More Peaceful City Living
I am a city girl; raised taking the city bus and metros to go to school, going to the cinema on Sunday mornings and taking afternoon school trips discovering the latest exhibitions at the local museums. I love living in the city because everything’s on your doorstep: coffee places, restaurants, libraries, shops of all kinds, museums, bars, cultural events, and festivals, you name it.
City living is exciting and entertaining...
But after spending 6 months traveling the empty roads of New Zealand a few years ago, I moved to Copenhagen, Denmark and it felt very busy to me (it is objectively not). After a couple of months experiencing the capital city energy, I realized it was quite a peaceful city; the people make it a beautifully relaxed and a country-like place to be in - with the city perks to go with it. I copied the Danes’ way to do it and riding my bike to work quickly became a very normal thing to do.
Now that I live right across the Hudson River from the busy New York City, daily living is very different. There’s traffic all the time and city noises every day; firefighter trucks and police cars ring loud in my ears, metros and buses are busy, making a morning commute feel like quite the adventure.
... But it can also be 'too much'
It can be overwhelming; if you’re an introvert like me or sensitive to noises and heavy activity around you, chances are that’s how you feel in the city, too. So to avoid never wanting to get into the city, because it’s still pleasant to take a visit to the museum or to try a new restaurant, here are 5 simple tricks I’m sharing so you can remain peaceful even on the busiest days.
1. Never skip a morning meditation.
Not skipping that meditation will help you feel more grounded and more present with those around you, instead of feeling like the world is against you and making all these noises, going so fast just to annoy you.
If you do skip it, don’t beat yourself up. Take a few minutes to focus on your breath once you get the chance to (in the queue at the supermarket, on the bus, on a bench in a park), or plan to do a moving meditation (focus on your steps as you walk and feel how your body moves! It’s fun, too). If you to learn how to build the habit of meditation, here is a little help.
2. Have a mantra playlist ready.
Play this while you’re on the subway, bus, or even stuck in traffic in your car. Mantras are usually phrases in Sanskrit, repeated over and over again to sounds that help you focus your attention, or release emotions, or just simply calm you. Here are my favorite mantra songs if you need a ready-made playlist.
3. Take all the time you need.
This is one I struggle with and have to constantly remind myself of. I’ve realized I feel more relaxed if I get into a busy supermarket keeping to the forefront of my mind that I actually don’t mind if grocery shopping takes me 10 more minutes than planned. This makes me wait for the lady who’s slowly reaching out for the hummus, then putting it back, choosing another kind, then going back for the hummus she’d chosen in the first place... With patience and tolerance. If she turns around to me, I’ll even feel like smiling at her.
Building patience is a key component to staying sane in the city
4. Bike around.
Yes! You get the views, your body gets to move, you’re out and breathing, getting your vitamin D and maybe getting a little tan if it’s summer. It gets you to connect with the earth a little more, it’ll ground you and wake you up. And you get a wonderful feeling of freedom with the extra movement your body needs for better sleep and over health.
5. Notice the Sun and the Moon.
In the morning, notice the sunrise. If your bedroom windows face the East, make sure your bed does too so you can get a few minutes of nature's beautiful show play for you every single morning. Make it a habit to notice the sun rising and setting every day. You can also add the full moon dates to your agenda or set your calendar to remind you to look up at night when the full moon comes round. Paying attention to the Sun and the Moon should work as reminders that the earth is beneath your feet and that this is something we all witness: the rising and setting of the Sun, the Moon cycles, just like breathing and the highs and lows of overall living as human beings.